College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jessica M. Choplin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Midge Wilson, Ph.D.


This thesis examines the acceptance of nonsense explanations in a contract signing scenario. Based on review of literature in contract signing behaviors, trust, social scripts, and empowerment, it is hypothesized that low status groups would be more likely to adhere to social scripts and sign problematic contracts. However, participants would be less likely to sign problematic contracts and accept senseless explanations if they are empowered. Accordingly, groups with lower status and low scores in empowerment were predicted to be more likely to sign a problematic contract than those with low status and high empowerment. Two studies test these hypotheses. The first study examines survey data collected in the city of Chicago and measures participants’ willingness to sign contracts in hypothetical scenarios. Results indicated that participants were more willing to sign problematic contracts with assurances than without assurances. Participants with low income were also more likely to agree to sign a problematic contract than participants with high income. A second study using an online sample and the inclusion of survey items to measure empowered personality traits replicated the finding of study one, however empowered traits did not predict willingness to sign the problematic contracts. Implications are discussed.